LONDON – Seven Britons who were imprisoned in Saudi Arabia over a pair of bombings said Thursday they were tortured by their Saudi captors.
The men, who were granted amnesty and freed last year, described being beaten on the soles of their feet, pounded with an ax and deprived of sleep.
"The pain was excruciating to the point where dying was preferable to living," said Alexander Mitchell, 48, of Glasgow, Scotland. "It was the fact that I was innocent and my prayers and that the truth would get out that kept me going."
Saudi authorities have denied the allegations of torture. The Saudi government says the men were kept in air-conditioned cells, were well-fed and were allowed to exercise.
The men are seeking to clear their names of the charge that they were linked to two bombings in Riyadh (search), the Saudi capital, that killed a Briton and injured four others in late 2000.
Some of the men appeared on Saudi television and admitted carrying out the bombings as part of a dispute between gangs dealing in alcohol, confessions they now say were forced.
Geoffrey Bindman, a lawyer for three of the former detainees, urged the British government to acknowledge the men's innocence and their torture.
The Foreign Office said it could not make judgments about individuals' guilt or innocence but that it was concerned that the judicial proceedings against the men relied only on their confessions.
The department said it had expressed those concerns and its concerns about the men's treatment to the Saudi government.